David Gilmour pre-discussion comments regarding The Collapse of Western Civilization

The Tacoma Retired Men’s Book Club will meet April 2nd, 2015 to discuss:

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, Columbia University Press, 2014.

Four handouts were passed out at our last meeting:
Essays by Wendell Berry: What are People for? (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990):
“An Argument for Diversity” pp. 109 – 122
“What are People for?” pp. 123 – 125
“Word and Flesh” pp. 197 – 203.

Alan Thein Durning, “The Six Floods,” an article excerpted from, This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence, published by Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 1996.

And now I add another reading, a short, but complete, FORUM essay from the distinguished geo-physical journal EOS, written by John M. Wallace, an atmospheric scientist of the University of Washington. I ask you to read this because it speaks in plain language about the Climate Change controversy and the problems of scientists and credibility, and getting their word out with the proper framing rhetoric. The following PDF file can be magnified and the works in the citations (some indicated in my quote of the passages) might be excellent follow-ups to our reading. The scientist Johan Rockström, whom I earlier sent out for his recent TED-talk, is included in this paper (“A Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Nature, 461, (2009) 472-475, doi:10.1038/461472a).

The citation for the article is EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, Volume 98, No. 11, 13 March 2012. This issue of the journal is page numbered 117 – 124. The article by Wallace, “Weather- and climate-related extreme events: Teachable moments” is found four pages from the beginning, on page 120. Here is a link to that issue of the journal.

Here are four passages from the EOS article to whet your appetite:

It is difficult for the public to grasp the significance of global warming because the mildness of its early symptoms belies the gravity of its long term consequences. Mindful of the human tendency to discount the importance of events seen as occurring far in the future, many scientists and science writers have come to regard newsworthy weather and climate-related extreme events as “teachable moments” that serve to illustrate the importance and immediacy of the impacts of human-induced climate change.

The problem with this approach is that the attribution of extreme events is often viewed as gratuitous and labeled as fear mongering. A more effective communications strategy, in my view, is to use these events to illuminate society’s increasing vulnerability to natural disasters in the face of our deteriorating planetary life-support system.

When scientists and science writers insist on framing the narrative about extremes mainly in terms of climate change, they fall into a rhetorical trap. If they claim that droughts, heat waves, floods and storms that qualify as extreme events today will become much more common toward the end of the
century (Meehi and Tebaldi, 2004; Burke et al., 2006) their warnings do not convey a sense of urgency because they relate to the statistics of events occurring at a distant time.

On the other hand, if scientists emphasize the contribution to global warming in accounting for the severity of today’s extreme events (Trenberth, 2011), they can be faulted for not being able to provide a credible, quantitative measure of just how much it contributes. Opponents of environmental protection exploit the inherent limitations of what statistics can tell us about today’s extreme events to cast doubt on the immediacy, the seriousness, and policy relevance of human induced environmental degradation and to portray the scientific community as “crying wolf.” This rhetorical loophole will gradually tighten as the impacts of climate change become more pronounced later in this century, but we can ill afford to wait that long to address global warming and other pressing global environmental issues.

Arguing about whether or not today’s extreme events are early indicators of climate change does nothing to advance the priority of global warming and other pressing environmental issues on our national policy agenda. The real significance of extreme events is as harbingers, not just of a changing climate but also of a changing world in which human society and the infrastructure that supports it are becoming increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters. The mounting disruptions in their wake reveal the progressive deterioration of our planetary life-support systems. Extreme events are, indeed, teachable moments: “wake-up calls” that an environmental crisis of global proportions is imminent—much more so than the subtle and sometimes ambiguous early warning signs of global warming might lead us to believe. (John M. Wallace, “Weather- and Climate-Related Extreme Events: Teachable Moments.” EOS, v. 93, No. 11, 13 March 2012, p. 120)

From Myth to Science

Before February 2015 and Peter Farnum’s selection of Anne Wroe’s Orpheus: The Song of Life, I had intended to follow that choice with a translation of Apuleius’s Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass, the first complete extant novel of the ancient world. A shift from the humanities to science in the modern world seemed preferable from the number of conversations I was experiencing in coffee houses. So now I will save the ancient work for my selection next year. It may have been too much to delve into mythology over a two month period.

However in selecting Naomi Oreskes’ and Erik Conway’s brief science-fiction exercise in assessing climate variability and its potential cataclysmic effects over planet Earth, I realized I would encounter narratives of our time that could better be couched as mythological rather than scientific. In discussing the massive clouds of information that are presently raining down on us from all the old print media and in the new electronic media, it is difficult not to be mentally polluted from time to time, to spout off about the newest things that came through the news as plausible; then to realize by noon, that someone with a “Dr.” prefix or named “Science Reporter” showed on “News Today” the story was a hoax or at least a questionable hypothesis. Since the Enlightenment and the Philosophes’ concern for true and definitive knowledge to help solve all humankind’s problems, the term “science’ has also been used to dignify all sorts of studies, e.g. the “science says” fallacies of advertising. Democracy is used in the same way to dignify Republican and Communist regimes that are in no way democratic.

“Nothing new under the sun” is without doubt an arguable phrase. Nothing is certainly known in every detail about nature. Lewis Thomas (The Lives of a Cell) said the only solid piece of scientific truth he knew is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature. When bathyspheric exploration of the deep trench of the Galapagos Rift discovered creatures of no known taxonomic zoological order, it seemed something new to human knowledge came to light. I’m not a scientist by degrees in education or practice. Nevertheless, steeped in humanities, I have held from childhood a deep interest in scientific research, sometimes puzzled by highly specialized mathematical data, but able to comprehend arguments and presentations so long as the writing and evidence have intelligible aspects for my level of generalist curiosity. The latest phase, “ The End of Nature” studies (à la Bill McKibben), has been a great part of news and coffee-table conversation, I imagined we could all dig into this subject and have a cogent discussion— to sort some things out.

Much thinking and knowledge can be accounted as provisional in this world, e.g. political and social reforms, weather forecasts, medical doctors’ diagnoses; likewise much is probable and much based on presumptions. As a book club collective of scientists, scholars of different fields, and intelligent generalists of many arts and sciences, what I think we might consider regarding The Planetary Crisis and Climate Change is the following: how we might approach the data of science and why it’s important; how do we deal with the prognostications of large international scientific committees; and how to digest the attitudes of politicians and government officials and manage the arguments and quarrels among friends and family.

Beyond matters clearly deducted and dependent on specific facts, we also manage a realm of thinking and decision making in matters of substantial argument, based often on experiences and a system of values that possess a degree of cogency. Finally, then, let’s discuss some practical matters: what behaviors we might adopt in meaningful ways to persuade other people to think clearly for themselves about the terrible things that might arise (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, wildfires, etc.) and what activities we might practice to better the situation regarding the degeneration of the natural places around us.

David R. Gilmour, March 26, 2015

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One Response to David Gilmour pre-discussion comments regarding The Collapse of Western Civilization

  1. Mohsen Mirghanbari says:

    Once again the topic of Global Warming and Climate Change have resurfaced but with a new vengeance, “Earthquakes”, let me clarify couple of things, I am NOT opposed to information that help save human lives, However, once again the exasperated news agencies are busy delivering the wrong messages.

    I do not consider myself a scientist, however, I see misinformations are propagating the public opinion to wrong directions. Therefore, if and when a disaster strikes most will be unprepared to show the will to respond accordingly and when necessary.

    No not just the “Mainstream Media” but futile experts who manipulate public learning, concerned with power grid outages or Earthquake homeowner’s insurance policy coverage then the actual reasons behind the cause. However, I do feel compelled to acknowledging enough credible knowledge to speak on the subject matter at hand.

    I believe it was nearly two years ago that Naomi Oreskes “The Collapse of Western Civilization” triggered many conversations among us, which I must admit it hit home, though most comments made, rendered no results and at times only disappointments, but then again that is a sign of sensitive topics which become

    up-close and personal, proceeded by challenging discussions.

    Let there be no judgement passed that I stake no claim or final conclusion nor solution to the matter of “Global Warming, “Climate Change or nowadays “Earthquake”, simply put Nature is not an Art collection, Musical tune, an Sport Activity, Political Arena, Economics, Religious preference, or trans social debate.

    Nature and its Climate components cannot be manipulated by man or a singular manmade phenom, however, we humans resort to conversations of independent interest and therefore resort to a chosen perspective, And the topic of Climate” and “Nature” is far beyond human imagination.

    I am neither a proponent or a denier of what is offered, and I concede the possibility that what is suggested here may also turn-out pure hype as well, however, I encourage you to the follow up possibilities of its veracity (or not) based on the best available information, rather than take on what’s offered as irrefutable Gospel truth.

    Considering the numerous past false alarms, like the Y2K, the 2012 Mayan calendar panic, or the end of the World and life as we know it, predictions of doomsday scenarios constantly surfacing with the internet filled with warnings of cataclysmic galactic event pinpointing the time of Earth’s arrival anywhere from December 25th to 27th.

    As I have stated above, my commentary is not intended to educate, sway, or persuade your perspectives, however, I felt it necessary to clarify my misunderstood stance on the topic of “Global Warming and Climate Change” that as I have repeatedly said, “I am not opposed to the notion of the topic, but I have a different understanding than what’s being presented. So I leave it up to you the reader to accept or reject my viewpoint.

    One must understand that all conversations start from a beginning, whether one reads, sees or hear it through comments. Therefore, through reading my favorite news sites, I chose to incorporate the written grammar of other writers to help better explain myself, And no I am not ashamed to admit to getting support. And I stand corrected the validity of my comments below. For those who wish to verify my statements may do so by simply referencing “Wikipedia” among.

    I had began my “Global Climate” research shortly after David G’s book, focusing mostly on the atmospheric and hemispheric “WINDS” and their involvement with our weather, however, my research has placed me much deeper then I had imagined and hope my writings would inspire you to do the same.

    So let begin,

    *The enormous electromagnetic cosmic pulse waves that strike the Earth that show up on “MIMIC TPW microwave imagery” should not be confused as a strange anomaly, The space weather phenomena impacts events on Earth’s surface that are currently under intensive scientific study.

    Over the last couple of months the scientific research consensus speculates that these powerful waves are emanating from magnetar, a classified neutron star that may be a soft gamma repeater with the most identified one in question the “SGR 1806-20” discovered in 1979 some 300 quadrillion miles away halfway across our “Milky-way Galaxy” within the Sagittarius constellation.

    Magnetar, a neutron star with a dense remnant of supernova explosion with an extremely powerful magnetic field, carries high energy electromagnetic radiation consisting of both dangerous Gamma rays and X-rays, which millions of these Neutron stars exist throughout our Galaxy.

    The SGR 1806-20’s potent magnetic field decay, 50,000 light-years away from earth with the largest recorded burst or “starquake eruption” reaching Earth on December 26th, 2004 is strongly linked to the December 27th, 2004 West Sumatra in Indonesia earthquakes, causing the Tsunami that took over 280,000 lives in Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

    Despite its diminutive 12 miles (20km) in diameter, SGR 1806-20 is the most highly magnetic object discovered at over 10(15) gauss compared to our sun’s 1-5 gauss and Earth’s magnetic field of 1/2 of gauss. Though invisible to human eyes, the falling gamma ray energy range is far more energetic than visible light or X-rays.

    The falling gamma ray star-quake eruptions which occurred 10s of thousand years ago also causing damages to its own stars becoming the brightest observed known event sighted outside our solar system, also damaging the earth’s outermost ionosphere rung the earth’s upper atmosphere sending pulses of magnetic radiation.

    *Thus, the Earth’s protective magnetosphere layer extending some 370,000 miles above the earth was damaged by the intense galactic magnetic radiation, the magnetar blast observed over a dozen years ago released more energy in just 1/10th of second than our sun has emitted in the last 150,000 years.

    Seemingly unfathomable to human mind, the mass of just 1/10th cubic centimeter of neutron star is estimated equivalent to the combined mass of 250 million cars in the US, the magnetar’s mass is several times that of our own sun.

    *In 2002 NASA launched the designated spectroscopic imager “RHESSI” responsible for observing gamma and X-ray radiation from solar flare activity of our own sun, while the European Space Agency (ESA) “INTEGRAL” designed to detect and measure gamma radiation deep in space’s blackholes, supernovas, and neutrons stars.

    NASA’s orbiting spacecraft “SWIFT” also launched in 2002 observed the 2004 gamma ray burst that is believed to be the biggest explosions recorded in space since the Big Bang Theory, with daily occurrences coming from all corners of the Universe.

    Then in 2005 NASA released findings also show scientists believe that these long RGB occurrences are the birthchild of Black Holes out in deep space some billion light years away, while shorter RGB’s lasting less then 2 seconds occur within (SGR) 100,000 light years from our planet.

    Such a close and powerful eruption raises the question whether an even larger influx of gamma rays, disturbing the atmosphere was responsible for the mass extinctions known to have occurred on Earth hundreds of million years ago.

    *It is presumed the Earth’s magnetic field was seriously damaged by the sever solar storms or flares in June 2015 when during a 2 hour period our magnetic field shrunk from 11 times the Earth’s radius to just four.

    And just last month (Nov. 2016) it was noted that a gigantic crack in the Earth’s magnetic shield allowed the harmful comic rays to pour into our atmosphere stirring up geomagnetic storms in the upper hemisphere.

    These disturbing trends are explained by the accumulative damage already sustained by the 2004 blast that destroyed portion of our protective magnetic shield, reducing the Earth’s resistance to further destruction by solar and galactic flares that strike the Earth’s atmosphere and crust, internally heating up and destabilizing the Earth’s iron core and molten metal mantel that in turn increase surface activity of both volcanic and earthquake, which we have observed in recent years.

    Magnetic fluctuations both internally and externally are directly connected to Earth’s tectonic plate movement, the solar and galactic flares wrecking havoc on our magnetosphere play a major factor causing the significant rise in major earthquakes and volcanoes now soaring on our planet.

    Major changes tracked on Earth are being observed also on other planetary surfaces and atmospheres within our solar systems and have nothing to do with the human caused CO2 levels. The actual heating of the planet and accompanying volcanic and earthquake activity are largely due to loss of our protective layer magnetosphere having taken some serious near fatal blows from solar radiation and solar flares.

    Just in 2016 there were a bundle of earthquakes that rocked the Earth from South Pacific to Indonesia to Northern Sumatra to California and elsewhere, which hours prior to these eruptions the USGS seismogram all over the world began detecting unusual activity even when no earthquake was happening and just within the last 30 days from this writing a total of 52 earthquakes have occurred.

    Though, I’ve said that the scientific society has subdivided into various groups with each side representing a particular agenda, there are still a number of credible scientists that are supporting the potential for “Global Warming, Climate Change or “Solar Storms”, included “San Diego’s Predictive Science” and the “US Military remote viewing research program” respectively, where they conduct greater research, regardless of their motivation.

    In brief, there are so many invisible factors to the naked eye or the average people that help shape and reshape Earth life and it’s Nature’s habitat including the

    penetrating upper atmosphere “WINDS” (a separate future writing), cosmic radiation energy among, however, the focus of misinformation should not to prosper from human tragedy and nature’s presumptive manmade demise, rather than to work toward learning the possible challenges that may lie ahead.

    Which brings me back to top of my conversation, the presentation of misinformation presented to a public who lack the will to learn, but willing to accept pablum, bland or insipid news and title it “true scientific proof” is “A sham foisted on us by the Globalist aggressively pushing toward one world governance”.

    “Human’ folly is no match for Mother Nature”


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